Spur Trail Santa Fe, NM.  Spur Trail Santa Fe, NM. María F. Trevino
15 April 2020

First Month as an NPS RTCA and HAF Fellow in the New Mexico Office

Category: Blog


Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to live in different cities.

What I have learned from moving is the ability to learn different techniques and skills that have made the process less tedious. Moving to Santa Fe New Mexico was not as complicated as it has been moving to other places in the past. When I was looking for a place, I decided that the place should meet with three requirements: 1) That the rental cost was within the budget I created 2) That the place had a centric location 3) If possible, that the place was furnished. I was lucky to find a room that met these qualities in a house where an elderly couple lives in. upon my arrival they received me with a warm welcome and made me feel almost like another member of their family.

Route from El Paso, TX to Santa Fe, NM. Photo by María F. Trevino

The City

Santa Fe is a city rich in art, architecture, history and culture. These are some of the reasons why visitors plan their trips to this special city. Something that I have learned from living in Santa Fe is that you can breath fresh and pure air, people will smile or waive at you on the streets with kindness and if you are lucky, some will even come to talk to you and tell you their stories and experiences. There is a great opportunity for outdoor recreation activities such as walking, hiking, running, bike riding, climbing and many other. One of the things that I like the most about this city is the scenery of the mountains especially when the sunset comes down. They are better than the paintings you find on Canyon Road, a very well-known art gallery street.

Painting on Canyon Road Santa Fe, NM. Photo by María F. Trevino

My First Day

I can describe my first day as an NPS RTCA and HAF fellow as the most interesting first day I have had at any job. I met Marcy DeMillion, my supervisor at her truck as we were headed to Pueblo de San Ildefonoso. This was the first time I was part of a community meeting with a tribe. Instead of feeling nervous, I felt extremely excited about it but tried not to show it too much. I had visited New Mexico in the past and had always wished to work with tribes and minority groups. This is one of the reasons why I applied to the New Mexico fellow position.

Walking out of the Santa Fe NPS Office. Photo by María F. Trevino

Marcy DeMillion

As I mentioned before I met Marcy DeMillion while we were driving to Pueblo de San Ildefonoso. Marcy is the first female supervisor I have ever had in my career which was very exciting to me. So far, she has been an excellent guide and mentor. One thing that I really admire about her is the passion, dedication and commitment she has for the projects that she is working on and the people who are working on those projects. Aside from the valuable experience she has while working with NPS RTCA Program and as a planner, what I value the most about working with her is her constant self-motivation to keep learning and how she cares for the people that she is working with. She always encourages me to learn more and shares her experiences, sources and information that is valuable to my personal learning plan. I appreciate the passion she gives to community work as it inspires me to continue to aspire a career in this field.

Connecting with Communities BLM Recreation Strategy, Marcy DeMillion in the Panel, Albuquerque, NM. Photo by María F. Trevino

Attila Bality

Attila Bality is my other supervisor, we met in his office in Albuquerque, NM. Attila has extensive experience working with community planning and has a special focus on public health. From conversations, meetings and working together I can perceive that he is a very practical and visionary planner. He can visualize things in the future to find ways to solve things to have a meaningful impact in the community. One example of that is the El Paso del Norte trail project in El Paso, TX. We are currently doing research of health indicators and community profiles where we can understand the problems and characteristics of the community to provide a trail that tells the story of the community while solving relevant problems in the present and future of the community. I am very excited to be working with him in a project that will impact the community of El Paso, TX, where I was born and raised one third of my life.

Paso del Norte Trail Neighborhood Study, El Paso, TX. Photo by María F. Trevino


Right after I started working at the Santa Fe office, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. This has brought upon changes within the structure of the NPS to continue to develop our projects. Even though many of the trips, meetings and events I had planned were cancelled due to the virus, I see this fellowship as a blessing. Both the NPS RTCA and HAF have done an amazing job to support my fellowship. Both of my supervisors Marcy DeMillion and Attila Bality are very proactive in looking into new methods and ways to adjust to the “new normal” and continue to develop the projects. Marlene Manzo my HAF coordinator has been very supportive throughout this crisis. One of the many lessons I have learned about this crisis is to acknowledge how important it is for communities to have access to outdoor recreation areas such as parks and trails, and land conservation for human wellbeing.


So far, this fellowship has taught me not only about outdoor recreation and land conservation but also about values, culture and inclusion. I have especially been thinking about the role that being Mexican American plays in the work I am doing as an NPS RTCA fellow and how to engage the Latino community into land conservation programs and projects. My hope as an NPS RTCA and HAF fellow is to continue to learn on a daily basis from the people that I am working with and to develop a more comprehensive perspective about working with communities.

Written by María F. Trevino, the Santa Fe Community Planning and Landscape Architecture Fellow for the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program. 

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